A very good read. It takes a strong, truthful look at illegal immigration from the side of the immigrant. It also looks at family problems and cooperation - and the failings of those we love. This will make a good discussion book for a family or a group.
In this well constructed and well written novel, a sister and brother come to California as undocumented immigrants from Mexico, pushed by grave economic needs. Getting here is hard, being here is hard, and all along the way there are comforts and joys, as well. The plot is strong and the contrast of the two main characters' attitudes makes this a very thought provoking book.
We often pick up books about familiar topics but also use books to "get outside" ourselves. This book is an effective compassion builder and it also makes it clear that there is no "one right way" to view undocumented immigrants--or do you say illegal aliens? Even the characters view themselves in a number of ways. The book is a great find as the characters are human, flawed, hopeful, despairing, and realistically drawn rather than sugar coated. It is an age appropriate way to introduce children to a topic that is important in our country today and likely to be important for years to come.
Interest level 6th to 8th grade (or adult), Reading level 6.2
I read this book with my Latino English language development class. We created a journal with maps of Lupita's journey, character maps of both Lupita and her brother. The class really enjoyed the book, both boys and girls. They learned so many lessons, not just related to vocabulary and comprehension. They discussed and related to modern problems of the INS, retaining one's culture while adapting to a new one, etc. It is a great read for middle schoolers.
Easy and fast to read. This is a quite realistic tale of a few weeks in the lives of a sister (the protagonist, age 13) and her bro (15?) who travel to the US illegally to live with their aunt in Indio by working to support their mom and the kids back in Mexico. Their dad, a fisherman, has recently died. They travel by way of Tijuana by bus, to Colton by riding the rails, and then walk to Indio alongside Interstate 15, always trying to keep a low profile to avoid la migra (I myself saw officers boarding the Greyhound buses as we passed through Indio in the 1970s). They work as a dishwasher and as a hotel maid in Colton, finding the work hard (15 rooms to get into shape are a lot!), and the field work in Indio is even worse.
The Latino characters are well drawn (they don't speak to any Anglos, Chinos, or Negros) and are mostly on the make and not afraid to squeeze a few bucks out of the youngsters (not much change among Mexicans since the times in the last days of Don Porfirio that B. Traven wrote about). There is no hint that the protagonist and her brother are concerned about taking jobs from other Americans nor that their acceptance of bad working conditions grows the ranks of miserable employers. There is an afterword by a bleeding heart yuppie employed by a NGO who notes that the population increase in Mexico (16.5 million when Don Lazaro Cardenas became president and 110 million? today--a country rich in resources has been ruined by overpopulation) has led to poverty.
As the story ends with the protagonist's first week in Indio, we don't see that product of the Immigration Act of 1965: immigrants refusing to work except with 'their own,' whatever that may be (I recently bought a sandwich in 62 different Subway shops and encountered no vets, two American Blacks, no Anglos, no Chinos, no older folks except the owner) and willing to work for a bottom feeding employer (poor wages and working conditions) if they don't have to work alongside 'others.' A sequel could show the recent availability of dope sold near every schoolyard and the lack of diversity in the public schools as the immigrant and first generation students run every 'other' kid out. One of muchisimos ejemplos--Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights with a handful of non-Latino students today, the others long since run out.